A silly admission on my part, being an author, writer, columnist etc., etc., but I am going to make it anyway – the other day it sort of dawned on me that the entertainment industry is not limited to actors/singers/songwriters/models etc but it also encompasses a much wider range of talented artists, including writers – and – so many more.
Sooooo – please allow me to introduce the first of ‘my’ writers to be showcased – the amazing Australian author Melissa Wray. Melissa is actually the brainchild who suggested I should write about my own bullying nightmare in fiction – this is now a work in progress.
But this isn’t about me. But it is about this wonderful mum to two wonderful kids and teacher who is passionate about her profession. She loves reading and cheerfully admits she sometimes cooks with a book in her hand if the story-line is too gripping to put down! She is also one who sees a half full glass, rather than half empty. In other words, a very positive and inspirational lady.
When asked if she has always enjoyed writing, Melissa admits to closet writing for a long time. But then along came ‘Destiny Road’ – and things sort of changed. her writing became a ‘bit’ more public. She now adds writing to her list of passions.
While ‘Destiny Road’ is her only published book to date, Melissa does have a list of other achievements to her credit. She can claim features in some other publications which are part of an author collective. Her writing has also won competitions.
When asked if her writing is based on personal experience, or if it is pure imagination and creativity, Melissa explains: “I made the same choice Jessica made in ‘Destiny Road’. I chose to go and live with my dad for the first time when I was sixteen and had to live with that decision. Unlike Jessica I had known him my entire life but my parents divorced when I was very young.” She continues by explaining that, sadly, her dad actually passed away several years ago and has always haunted her that she never told him how grateful she was the he agreed to let her live with him all those years ago. “I dedicated ‘Destiny Road’ to his memory. With the publication, I feel like I have said thank you – so hopefully he knows.”
Melissa says writing transports her into her own world. She switches off from normal daily life and gets completely carried away with her story. That’s a lovely way to feel.
When asked if she found it hard to find an agent and/or publisher, Melissa tells us she actually won a competition with ‘Destiny Road’. The prize? A publishing contract through Morris Publishing Australia. And she even had a justified reason for entering at all. Her maiden name just happens to be – no prizes for guessing – Morris. But she never, not in a million years, thought she’d even be shortlisted, let alone win the ultimate publishing contract! Congratulations Melissa. Her favourite genre is realistic fiction.
As previously mentioned, she is also passionate about reading. She admits she has a “never ending To Be Read List”. Add travel to that – and another “never ending To Be Visited List”. Writing is good and truly part of her life now, and she simply cannot imagine not working on something.
Let’s not forget about her other passion – teaching. “From the time I could talk I wanted to be a primary school teacher. I worked many different jobs to put myself through university and achieve that goal. I still remember the pride and joy of walking into my own classroom fifteen years ago. It is a wonderfully challenging but rewarding career.”
And, like everyone the world over, Melissa does have her inspirations. Her children! Pure and simple. They inspire her to improve all the time, to keep working toward her own goals. “I can’t tell them they can do and be whatever they want and then not follow my own advice,” she says. How very true! As for her children, they both also enjoy writing. Her seven year old son has a ‘terrific flair’ for writing – and has drawers full of finished stories. Her five year old daughter begins school next year and loves reading to her dolls. Mum has caught her– how gorgeous!
Her biggest obstacle, as with so many writers and others in the entertainment industry – actually every industry the world over – self-doubt. Melissa says she is working through it though.
And next in the pipeline for Melissa Wray? Well, never to stop writing anyway – at least not in the foreseeable future and, as it happens, she has just completed her second YA story, ‘Summer Change’. She also sends a shout out: “ARE THERE ANY PUBLISHERS OUT THERE INTERESTED????” She has also begun her third novel: ‘Late Bloomer’ and hopes to have the first draft finished by Christmas. Good luck, Melissa.
Favourite authors? Absolutely. Definitely Australia’s Bryce Courtenay. She describes the late author as an amazing story teller and mentions she even had the honour of meeting him. Melissa admits she cannot bring herself to read his final novel, knowing it will be the last one she ever reads.
Dreams for the future? As a mum she dreams her two children will know the happiness, satisfaction and enjoyment life offers. But for herself? Very simple – she just wants to know she made the most of every opportunity – and she does not want to look back and wonder – ‘what if?’
And, yes, she does have some very valuable and sensible tips for other emerging writers. “Just write. Let the thoughts and ideas spill out. Don’t worry if it is rubbish or makes little sense or you don’t know how the story line will work. It will work out and you can edit later. Go to author talks. Invest in some writing courses/workshops. I just joined a YA writers group. Although it’s in early stages I think it’s going to be a terrific support group.”
And – to finish:
“Dreams Do Come True, If We Only Wish Hard Enough.”
‘Destiny Road’ is a journey of choices, consequences, heartbreak and acceptance. Readers will get to experience the journey of not just Jessica but all the characters involved in the story. Melissa hopes readers connect with Jessica and the fact that we sometimes have to live with decisions and accept the consequences that come from choices.Story by Melissa Wray. Translated from interview by Lannah Sawers-Diggins Image: Melissa Wray ‘Destiny Road’ Trailer Website
Read the first chapter free at Morris Publishing Australia